George Lafayette Mabry Jr. (September 14, 1917 – July 13, 1990) was a United States Army officer and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions during the Battle of Hurtgen Forest in World War II.
Mabry was a 1940 graduate of Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina. Mabry majored in English and minored in psychology with hopes of becoming a teacher and coach. He played college baseball for four years and football for two years, and was a captain in the college ROTC corps.
Mabry joined the US Army at his birthplace of Sumter, South Carolina. On June 6, 1944, Mabry landed with the 4th Infantry Division on Utah beach during the D day invasion of Normandy, France. After rapidly rising through the officer ranks, Mabry was a lieutenant colonel in the 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division.
On November 20, 1944, while leading his battalion in the Hurtgen Forest near Schevenhütte, Germany, Mabry personally found a safe route through a minefield, led a group of scouts in the capture of three enemy bunkers, and then established an advantageous defensive position. For these actions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor the following year, in September 1945.
From 1954 to 1956, Mabry served as commander of the 31st Infantry Regiment in South Korea. After that, Mabry spent ten years serving with US forces in the Panama Canal Zone, with four years as commander. While in the Canal Zone, Mabry played a significant role in establishing the US Army Jungle Warfare Training Center at Fort Sherman. Mabry's final posting was as Commander of the United States Southern Command at Fort Amador in Panama and then at Fort Sheridan, Illinois during the 1970s.
Mabry reached the rank of major general before retiring from the Army in 1975.
Mabry died at age 72 of prostate cancer at Richland Memorial Hospital in Columbia, South Carolina. He was buried at Holy Cross Episcopal Church cemetery in Stateburg, South Carolina. Mabry had two sons, a daughter, and his wife Eulena.
On May 28, 1990, the Major General George L. Mabry Jr. Veterans Memorial Park was dedicated in Stateburg.
Medal of Honor citation
Mabry's official Medal of Honor citation reads:
He was commanding the 2d Battalion, 8th Infantry, in an attack through the Hurtgen Forest near Schevenhutte, Germany, on 20 November 1944. During the early phases of the assault, the leading elements of his battalion were halted by a minefield and immobilized by heavy hostile fire. Advancing alone into the mined area, Col. Mabry established a safe route of passage. He then moved ahead of the foremost scouts, personally leading the attack, until confronted by a boobytrapped double concertina obstacle. With the assistance of the scouts, he disconnected the explosives and cut a path through the wire. Upon moving through the opening, he observed 3 enemy in foxholes whom he captured at bayonet point. Driving steadily forward he paced the assault against 3 log bunkers which housed mutually supported automatic weapons. Racing up a slope ahead of his men, he found the initial bunker deserted, then pushed on to the second where he was suddenly confronted by 9 onrushing enemy. Using the butt of his rifle, he felled 1 adversary and bayoneted a second, before his scouts came to his aid and assisted him in overcoming the others in hand-to-hand combat. Accompanied by the riflemen, he charged the third bunker under pointblank small arms fire and led the way into the fortification from which he prodded 6 enemy at bayonet point. Following the consolidation of this area, he led his battalion across 300 yards of fire-swept terrain to seize elevated ground upon which he established a defensive position which menaced the enemy on both flanks, and provided his regiment a firm foothold on the approach to the Cologne Plain. Col. Mabry's superlative courage, daring, and leadership in an operation of major importance exemplify the finest characteristics of the military service.